Healthy Workplaces | 1
For many Americans, the workplace is second only to home in terms of time spent and impact on lifestyle choices. Fortunately, growing numbers of employers are seeing the connection between healthier workers and healthier profits. By doing their part to provide healthy workplaces, employers can improve worker productivity, reduce rates of absenteeism and presenteeism (when people are present, but not working effectively), and reduce their direct and indirect health care costs.
RECOMMENDATION: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL (CDC), IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PRIVATE COMPANIES, SHOULD DEVELOP A DATABASE OF EXEMPLARY WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS WITH A RIGOROUS COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS TO HELP SCALE UP EXISTING BEST PRACTICES IN BOTH THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND WITHIN GOVERNMENT. THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) SHOULD PROVIDE SUPPORT HERE.
Such a database would help employers design employee wellness programs that are well-suited to their particular circumstances. Better tools for analyzing program costs and impacts, more pilot programs and program evaluations, and supporting certification and accreditation programs would help lower barriers to participation and accelerate the dissemination of best practices.
RECOMMENDATION: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD BOTH SCALE UP SUCCESSFUL WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS AND CONTINUE EXPLORING INNOVATIVE APPROACHES.
The federal government’s Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) currently spends $40 billion per year covering health care costs for federal employees. But because it pays all employee-related medical and pharmacy claims, individual departments or agencies have no way to track their health care costs and no direct incentive to promote employee health or disease prevention. Changing this situation should be explored as a first step toward modeling leadership on the issue of workplace wellness in the federal government. Federal investments in data collection and tracking to substantiate the benefits achievable through workplace wellness programs can help point the way toward replicable approaches for firms and their employees throughout the economy.